Individualized Education Plan Failures...and Fixes!

What do you do when your child's individualized education plan (IEP) isn't being followed? ADDitude asked readers how they get classroom accommodations in place and enforced -- even in the most challenging of school systems.

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Have you had trouble getting classroom accommodations, such as an individualized education plan (IEP), for your child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), learning disabilities, and/or other special needs? Almost all of our readers have faced this problem -- and have come up with effective strategies for solving it.

Build a Support Team

"Advocate for your child. If the school is not in compliance with the IEP, hire an IEP advocate and threaten legal action. It’s sad to say, but it is sometimes the only thing that works." -J., Virginia

"Copy the superintendent on all letters and e-mail sent to the school." -Celia, Ohio

"Make sure that your child knows about all the accommodations in his IEP, and make sure it is OK for him to request what he needs from teachers." -Melinda, Virginia

"Get your spouse involved. When I made my husband attend meetings, things started going our way." -An ADDitude Reader

"Hire a special-education advocate to go to school and observe your child in class." -Judy, Florida

"First, talk with the IEP liaison/special-ed teacher. Set up a meeting to discuss why it’s imperative to follow the IEP -- for the student as well as the teacher. If that fails, call the special-ed director to complain. Since the IEP is a legal document, the director will be quick to intervene on your behalf." -Karen, Massachusetts

Get in Good with the Powers That Be

"Volunteer at school. Work in your child’s classroom, if possible -- and get a bird’s-eye view of what goes on." -Julie, Oregon

"Stay involved in the day-to-day details of school. If parents are supposed to check off that homework has been done, then do it. If I do my part, it’s easier to tell the teachers when they aren’t doing theirs." -Jayne, Maine

Work with the Teacher

"Make a copy of the IEP, and ask the teacher to check off the services your child receives every day. After three or four weeks, you will have enough information to touch base and get things on track. Asking the teacher to complete the form daily is the reminder that she needs to be on task with the IEP." -Deborah, California

"I make sure that the teacher and I are on the same page from the start of school by bringing in an “Intro to My Child,” a folder that includes a photo of my daughter and a copy of the IEP. In it, I highlight what services work well for her." -Terri, Minnesota

"We stay in touch with our daughter’s teachers, by having monthly meetings and by exchanging e-mails and phone calls frequently. It took a while, but finally, after six months, they got the idea that we were involved, concerned parents." -Kris and Blair, Alberta, Canada

"Set up a meeting and find out if someone is dropping the ball or whether the accommodations, which seemed workable on paper, are in practice. Does the IEP need to be modified, or must someone be held accountable?" -Connie, Ohio

Set Realistic Expectations

"As a parent and special-ed teacher, my answer is the same: Make sure that the school can provide the accommodations in the IEP. I’ve had parents “require” us to provide services that were difficult or impossible to implement. Talk with other parents and create a program that works." -Joyce, Tennessee

"Be forceful but realistic in your expectations. I requested a meeting with the teacher, the director of special education, and the superintendent. It didn’t help. They banded together against me. If the school is receptive, a meeting will help. If it isn’t, nothing you do will change things." -Yvonne, Ontario, Canada

Stay Positive

"I’m a former special-ed teacher, and my first suggestion is to observe, observe, observe. It’s hard to know what’s up until you see it for yourself. Is the teacher offering accommodations and your child refusing them? Is your child too impulsive to take the designated cool-down break? Second, please take the chip off of your shoulder. It doesn’t help." -Jenny, Oregon

"Don’t lose your cool. Let the teacher know that you’re aware of how busy she is, and don’t have a bad attitude. Ask if she can think of a better way to accomplish the IEP goals. Tell her that you will check back to see how the new plan works. -Cindy, Tennessee

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